Hurricane Dorian will work its way up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States this week, battering the coastline with torrential rains, heavy winds, and flash floods. As tens of millions of people spent the holiday weekend preparing for the worst, Donald Trump marked the occasion by visiting his golf course in Virginia on Saturday, and then again on Monday. He defended this choice by explaining that he played "very fast."
The president's grasp of the magnitude of this natural disaster appears, at best, tenuous. In a tweet on Sunday morning, he included Alabama on a list of states that he says are likely to be "hit (much) harder than anticipated" by the storm. "BE CAREFUL!" he warned. "GOD BLESS EVERYONE!" Since experts do not anticipate the storm hitting Alabama, the president's dispatch forced the Birmingham branch of the National Weather Service to issue a hasty clarification to potentially-concerned area residents. "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian," it wrote. "We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east."
As Dorian drew nearer, Trump continued to exhibit a childlike fascination with relative size and strength of weather phenomena, remarking over the weekend that he's "not sure" he's "ever even heard of a Category 5"—the most serious classification of hurricanes, reserved for those storms that cause "catastrophic damage." In fact, Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Michael, all of which threatened the United States and attained Category 5 status, occurred during his presidency. As documented by CNN's Daniel Dale, Trump similarly professed back in September 2017 that he "never even knew a Category 5 existed." Earlier this year, the president claimed he'd "never heard about Category 5s before," and noted that "a Category 5 is big stuff."
Given the volume of presidential misinformation out there, here is what we actually know about Hurricane Dorian so far—and what forecasters expect it to do next.
What has Dorian done already?
The storm made landfall over the weekend as a Category 5 hurricane over the Abaco Islands, a cluster of cays in the Bahamas, with sustained winds of 185 mph and occasional gusts of up to 220 mph. Despite the intensity of winds within the storm, the storm itself moved very slowly—sometimes crawling along at 1 mph—and more or less parked itself over Grand Bahama Island, a major tourist destination, for the better part of a day. Its unrelenting winds delivered up to 30 inches of rain and prompted "large and destructive waves" near the coasts, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
At least five people have been killed in the Abaco Islands, says Bahamian prime minister Hubert Minnis. The Red Cross estimates that as many as 13,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, and 62,000 people may lack access to fresh water as a result of the ocean's storm surge. A spokesperson for Bahamas Power and Light told the Associated Press that New Providence, the archipelago's most populous island, is in the midst of a total blackout.
Satellite images and social media dispatches from Grand Bahama indicate that large swaths of the island, including its international airport, are temporarily underwater. The storm's rapid expansion and slow-moving pace mean that its strong winds continue to hammer the Bahamas on its way out.
Prime Minister Minnis broke down in tears during a press conference on Sunday, calling it "the worst day of my life," the Nassau Guardian reported. "As a physician, I've been trained to withstand many things, but never anything like this," he said. Although he issued evacuation orders as the storm drew nearer, he noted despairingly that not everyone left their homes before it hit. "I can only say to them that I hope this is not the last time they will hear my voice, and may God be with them."
Where is it now?
Dorian has weakened since it began moving away from the Bahamas, with sustained winds peaking at 110 mph. In response, the NHC downgraded it to a Category 2—a classification for storms that bring "extremely dangerous" winds and "extensive damage"—on Tuesday morning. The storm is, however, expanding in size, with hurricane-force winds and tropical-storm-force winds extending 60 miles and 175 miles from its center, respectively. Dorian is chugging along towards the U.S. mainland at about 5 mph, but will likely pick up the pace a bit later today.
Where is it headed now?
Towards Florida, where it is projected to then turn north along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. The NHC says Dorian should track "dangerously close" to the coast of Florida through Wednesday; travel "very near" the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday; and then arrive "near or over" eastern North Carolina late Thursday or early Friday. Flash floods, life-threatening swells, storm surges of between 3 and 7 feet, and heavy rainfall accumulations—up to 15 inches in certain areas of the Carolinas—could follow in its wake. The NHC also warns that "a tornado or two" may also form in the immediate vicinity as Dorian makes its way up the coast.
Beyond that, the storm gets a bit more difficult to track, but the cone of uncertainty predicts that Dorian continues traveling northeast from the Outer Banks area, sparing the Washington-New York corridor from a direct hit. By Saturday morning, it'll be somewhere off the coast of Massachusetts; by early Sunday, it is projected to pass over Nova Scotia.
What preparations are underway?
The governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency in their respective states. Many schools and government buildings are closed, and curfews are in effect in parts of Florida and Georgia.
"Why don't we just nuke them?"
Originally Appeared on GQ